The crowning of Donald Trump as Republican presidential candidate is sending so much panic through the GOP that some prominent party members are now calling themselves ex-Republicans. Never has a candidate been so unpopular within his own party. One faction even founded and bankrolled a “Never Trump” movement that aimed — and failed — to prevent the moment that’s now upon them.
At this point in the race, when all the other candidates have disappeared and one contender remains in the field, typically what happens is the party rallies around that person, forgetting the war-like animosity of the previous months. It is usually said that past conflicts were “nuance.” This time, very few prominent party figures are siding with Trump. The two most recent Republican presidents, George Bush Sr. and his son George W., have no plans of endorsing Trump.
It’s an unprecedented scenario, a delegitimization of the fact of the establishment and a sign of a wide break between the party elite and the base of voters who rate Trump over any of the more likeable characters in the GOP. It’s not a matter of being more or less conservative, but rather the composition of his character. Trump has none of the minimum ethical values that the party has always believed in (from the far-right, of course). White supremacist attacks are not (or were not) Republican values.